NIOA has begun ammunition production for the Army’s next-generation armoured Boxer vehicle, marking a significant milestone for munitions manufacturing in Australia. The company will produce 40,000 rounds of medium calibre training ammunition at the Commonwealth Government-owned NIOA-operated plant in Benalla, Victoria for the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV) which is being made in Queensland by Rheinmetall.
It comes as the Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy announced a $220 million investment in munitions production at Benalla and another government-owned contractor-operated (GOCO) factory at Mulwala in regional New South Wales. Conroy and Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) Enterprise Chief AVM Leon Phillips OAM toured NIOA’s Benalla operation in early October as the first batch of 30mm projectiles was being prepared to roll off the line. A key recommendation of the Defence Strategic Review was to replenish GWEO stocks and to establish sovereign missile and munition manufacturing facilities in Australia.
“Improving Australia’s ability to manufacture the munitions our defence force needs is not only critical to meeting the strategic challenges we face as a nation, it will also support local industry and well-paid, skilled local jobs,” Conroy said. “The Mulwala and Benalla munition factories underpin Australia’s ability to develop critical propellants, explosives and munitions for the Australian Defence Force.”
NIOA Australia and New Zealand CEO Ben James welcomed the government’s investment in domestic munitions production. “This will further support Australia’s growing defence industrial base and comes at an exciting time as we ramp up production of the Boxer ammunition at Benalla,” he said. “NIOA’s $12 million investment at Benalla reflects our commitment to work with Government and Defence in delivering sovereign capability and local jobs. We have a highly qualified and professional team at Benalla who have worked exceptionally hard to reach this key milestone in sovereign munitions manufacture.”
The NIOA tenancy at Benalla maintains the Commonwealth’s capabilities for the manufacture of primary energetics, pyrotechnics, medium calibre, mortar and tank ammunition, hand grenades, fuzes, primers, along with various laboratory test facilities. The company recently completed work recapitalising 120mm tank ammunition for the Australian Army’s M1A1 Abrams tank fleet.